Industrial Relations Advisory: Extended Sick Leave


Can you tell me what gives an employee the right to extended sick leave? We have an employee who has been on paid sick leave for three working weeks, all duly covered by doctors’ certificates, as you said. He has now sent in a note requesting another four weeks off enclosing a medical certificate (from another doctor) for that amount of time.

We are not unionized, but we do have a company Human Resources Manual that provides for three working weeks paid sick leave and says that an employee “may be granted extended sick leave” up to six further weeks in the case of serious illness.



“Extended Sick Leave” is, as is indicated in your policy, normally at the discretion of the employer.

The problem seems to arise when employees do not make a distinction between “Entitlement” and “Eligibility”. The law ‘entitles’ employees covered by the Minimum Wages Ordinance or those covered by an employment contract to a certain amount of paid leave during illness. That is theirs by right and it cannot be reduced or cancelled by the employer.

Where it comes to Extended Sick Leave, however, the company policy, does not entitle the employee to anything other than an eligibility to apply for the firm’s discretion to consider payment during medical incapacity as is unambiguously stated in your policy. Presumably if the employee is considered to be one with a good work history and is productive, and contributes positively to the organization the decision will be a favourable one. Your company presumably has (or it should have) criteria on which it exercises this discretion.

An employee with a poor record of discipline and/or productivity and/or behaviour would not be given the privilege of paid leave for the extended period. The company may consider unpaid leave during the period of illness, but there is no entitlement even to that.

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